Vladimir Putin & Russia May 2022-

Written by  //  May 19, 2022  //  Russia  //  No comments

Vladimir Putin & Russia 2021-April 2022
Putin’s Road to War

19 May
Three Signs That Putin Might Be Reassessing His Plans
The war in Ukraine drags on, but there are signs of change
By Tom Nichols
(The Atlantic) The armies sent to Ukraine by Russian President Vladmir Putin continue to murder, rape, pillage, and destroy, all in the name of … well, no one but Putin is quite sure. But there are signs that some kind of Russian reassessment might be underway.
… Be assured that Putin is going to go on hammering away at Ukrainian cities and infrastructure with artillery and missiles. But his plan of capturing Ukraine whole has failed, and his forces have now lost the battles of Kyiv and Kharkiv. They’ve won—if “winning” means anything at the moment—the battle of Mariupol, by reducing that besieged city to rubble. The onslaught is not going to end anytime soon.
Nonetheless, three things have made me wonder what’s going on in the Kremlin. I am connecting these pieces of data by pure speculation at this point, but taken together they seem to be a pattern. One is Putin’s Victory Day speech, another is the phone call between U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu, and the last is a striking Russian television appearance by an incisive critic of the war, retired Russian Colonel Mikhail Khodaryonok.
… Putin may have to settle for turning this war of conquest into yet another frozen conflict, where he feeds Russian boys into the meat grinder while pondering his next idiotic move. How long Russians—and the Russian military—will put up with that is anyone’s guess.

18 May
Inside Putin’s Propaganda Machine
Current and former employees describe Russian state television as an army, one with a few generals and many foot soldiers who never question their orders.

16 May
Anders Aslund: Western Advocates of Appeasement Need Crash Course in Putinology
Anders Åslund is the author of “Russia’s Crony Capitalism: The Path from Market Economy to Kleptocracy”.
(Kyiv Post) In reality, neither bleeding heart liberals nor diehard realists truly understand Russian President Vladimir Putin. They fail to recognize that he is an authoritarian kleptocrat who does not care about Russia’s national interest and is focused instead on his power and wealth.
He hides this self-interest behind a façade of revisionist Russian nationalism that helps secure popular support for his criminal rule.
As I have argued in my book, Russia’s Crony Capitalism: The Path from Market Economy to Kleptocracy, Putin’s personal politics combine authoritarianism and kleptocracy. He needs war not to make Russia great again but to increase his popularity and justify his repressive domestic policies. Putin also fears the rise of a democratic Ukraine and views the country’s Euro-Atlantic integration as an existential threat to his own authoritarian regime.

13 May
Vladimir Putin, Family Man
As Western nations place sanctions on people close to the Russian leader, including family members, the strict secrecy surrounding his private life is being punctured.
(NYT) A former K.G.B. operative steeped in the agency’s ways of subterfuge, disinformation and the Janus-like ability to present different selves depending on the situation, he has shrouded his personal life in secrecy and wrapped it in rumor.
He has two officially recognized daughters from his first marriage, but according to independent Russian news outlets and unverified international news reports, he may have four more children with two other women. Yet even his acknowledged daughters, now approaching middle age, are so hidden as to be unrecognizable on a Moscow street. His former wife, whom some biographers believe he married to improve his chances of entering the bachelor-resistant K.G.B., essentially vanished from view even before they divorced.

10 May
Ian Bremmer: What Putin’s Victory Day speech means for the war
The speech was important not because of what was said, but because of what wasn’t.
President Vladimir Putin was widely expected to use the occasion to do one of two things: either declare victory in Ukraine and lay the groundwork for some sort of frozen conflict, or escalate—turning the “special military operation” into a proper war, ordering a general mobilization of the Russian people, announcing the annexation of Donetsk and Luhansk, or going nuclear (figuratively, though sadly not entirely) and taking the war to NATO.
As it turns out, he did neither.
… Despite having few notable military achievements to show for, Putin could have used the speech to declare the second phase of the “special military operation” in Ukraine successful, having “liberated” Russians in the Donbas who had been previously “oppressed” by the Kyiv regime. He could have said that Ukraine had been effectively “de-Nazified and de-militarized,” having defeated the Azov battalion in Mariupol and degraded Ukraine’s military capabilities. All of this is false, of course—Russian forces have not yet managed to fully capture the city of Mariupol, let alone secured the entire Donbas, and Ukraine’s military is better armed than ever thanks to Western support. But Putin maintains near-absolute control of information within Russia, so he could have sold this narrative to his domestic audience.
Why is it bad news that he didn’t? Because that claimed “victory” could have been the face-saving offramp he needed to lock in his gains, cut his losses, and freeze the conflict—or even to start negotiating a ceasefire and a rollback of sanctions

Biden says he is worried Putin does not have a way out of Ukraine war
Biden said Putin is a very calculating man and the problem he worries about now is that the Russian leader “doesn’t have a way out right now, and I’m trying to figure out what we do about that.”

9 May
9 Theses on Putin’s Fascism for 9 May
How Putin’s myth of 2022 differs from the history of 1945
Timothy Snyder
In a number of writings since 24 February 2022 (and indeed since 24 February 2014, the date of the prior Russian invasion), I have tried to explain how Putin’s interpretation of the Soviet inheritance tends toward fascism, and thus how he justifies (at least to himself) invading Ukraine by reference to the the Second World War. Putin’s celebration of Russia’s ostensible innocence today provides the occasion for a summary of these arguments.
Russian propaganda about 1945 and 2022 is summarized in the popular slogan: “We can repeat!” But history, of course, does not repeat. And we cannot make it do so. The whole idea of repetition involves choosing a particular point in the past, idealizing it, ignoring all the context and everything that followed, and then imagining that it can be relived. Whoever performs this exercise eliminates any sense of responsibility: we were right back then, therefore we are right now, and we will always be right — no matter what we do. And so fascism’s “redemptive excess” of “patriotic arbitrariness” is attained.
Putin’s Victory Day speech gives no clue on Ukraine escalation
(Reuters) President Vladimir Putin exhorted Russians to battle in a defiant Victory Day speech on Monday, but was silent about plans for any escalation in Ukraine, despite Western warnings he might use his Red Square address to order a national mobilisation.
Western capitals had openly speculated for weeks that Putin was driving his forces to achieve enough progress by the symbolic date to declare victory – but with few gains so far, might instead announce a national call-up for war.
Heather Cox Richardson: ” [T]he powerful speech of the occasion came from Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, filmed outside walking down Khreshchatyk Street, the main street in Kyiv, where normally there would be a Victory Day parade. Zelensky claimed Ukrainian ownership of victory against the Nazis in World War II, then turned to the story of the present.
Ukrainians are fighting, he said, “[f]or our freedom. For our independence. So that the victory of our ancestors was not in vain. They fought for freedom for us and won. We are fighting for freedom for our children, and therefore we will win…. And very soon there will be two Victory Days in Ukraine. And someone will not even have one left.
In Putin’s words: What Russia’s leader said at Victory Day parade
Russian forces and Donbas volunteers are ‘fighting for the Motherland so no one forgets the lessons of World War II’, says Vladimir Putin.
(Al Jazeera) Russia on Monday marked the the 77th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.
The following are quotes from his televised speech at the annual Victory Day parade in Red Square:

CTV News: “Diplomatic Community” May 3: what is Putin up to?
Will he declare ‘war’ on May 9 Victory Day? It would be a risky move and an admission that the “special military operation” is going the wrong way. Concern is high for food exports.

1 May
Vladimir Putin has gravely miscalculated in Ukraine
The Russian president has achieved a lot since his forces invaded Ukraine, says DW’s Miodrag Soric. It’s just that it was the opposite of what he wanted.
… Russia’s army has failed Putin. His propagandists will need to dream up some sort of victorious achievement in time for the May 9 parade, then disseminate this fabrication on state-controlled television.
… Putin must further isolate his country and escalate the conflict for his own political survival. How great must his desperation be, if he now resorts to threats to use nuclear weapons? Conventional weapons have apparently not delivered the expected results.
His actions are also leading the West toward independence from Russian energy imports within months, something it would never have done otherwise.
Nobody is talking about a swift victory over Russia — on the contrary. NATO expects this confrontation to drag on for many years. Moscow must never be allowed to be so strong again, able to wage war on other nations.
Russia must be forced to pay for Ukrainian postwar reconstruction, it must be made to withdraw its troops from Georgia and Moldova, and to leave Belarus. During the 1980s, the economically superior West used the arms race to bankrupt Russia. History is repeating itself. However, today’s Russia is weaker than the Soviet Union was at the time. And the West is bigger, more united and more powerful than ever.

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